We are disconnecting from our connections

John David Thompson

In the 1950s, families started bringing television sets into their dining rooms. Consequently, mothers began to notice a decline in etiquette, and away went the TVs. A similar phenomenon is occurring today with smartphones. We have all been to parties, classes and meetings where everyone in the room is silently texting, sending emails and checking their Facebook and Twitter feeds. Our culture is connected to the world, while 
simultaneously disconnected.

Students are addicted to social media. Rarely do we meet another person without adding them on Facebook, not to mention Instagram and Twitter. “We are more connected than ever” is one of the most frequently used clichés today. Our smartphones enable us to be with a group of people and not say a word to them, while simultaneously having a conversation with a group of people who could be spread out all over the world. We are in danger of living our lives within a five-inch screen.

Any significant (and many insignificant) life event is unthinkable without a smartphone. We have all been to a party where everyone in the room is silently checking their Facebook and Twitter feeds. Consider going to a concert. You purchase your tickets online, probably with your smartphone. Then, you “share” with your Facebook friends that you have just bought tickets (Ticketmaster allows you to show exactly where your seats are). When you arrive at the concert, you “check-in” on Foursquare and Facebook. Finally, rather than enjoy it by living in the moment of the performance, you record it with your smartphone and rush to upload a video so your friends can “like” it, and show off how great your life is. Not to mention all of the Snapchats you would take, and tweets you would have to tweet about the concert.

Another popular activity at dinners, along with leaving their phone on the table throughout the meal, is taking a picture of their food and posting it to Instagram with a nice filter and the hashtag, #foodgram. Recently though, restaurants have started to ban customers from taking pictures of their food, or even banning cell phone use entirely. Eva Restaurant in Los Angeles even gave a 5 percent discount to customers who left their cell phone at the host stand, and Rogue 24 in Washington, D.C., requires customers to sign a contract forbidding cell phone use when making 
a reservation.

Smartphones can be an invaluable life-enhancing tool. The communication possibilities and the technology they provide are truly incredible. For students especially, there are tons of applications and other features that can help you manage your life. However, we must remember to stay connected to the people with whom we are in physical contact. Take the time to look up, put your phone away and experience life.

John David Thompson is a 
sophomore majoring in piano 
performance. His column runs biweekly on Tuesday.